Jonathan's Perspective  

Oct 5

Forgiveness is a Decision

Forgiveness is a Decision

      There is a good old Southern expression: “Burn me once, shame on you; Burn me twice, shame on me.”  The idea is that if someone sins against you, then you need to take action to make sure that cannot happen again.  However, if we truly abided by that rule, we would have no friends, let alone a deeply loving relationship with anyone.  Jesus took the opposite stance: But if you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’(Mt 6:14-15)  Jesus gives us no loopholes, no wiggle room, no ability to justify an unforgiving spirit.  So, if Jesus expects us to forgive all the time, it has to be a decision.  Forgiveness is the decision to dismiss resentment and displeasure from the heart.  It has particular reference to preserving fellowship with the other person.

      Forgiveness is a decision not to dwell on the wrong endured.  As Paul wrote, ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs.’ (I Cor 13:5).  We decide that once we have dealt with it, we won’t keep throwing it back up in the person’s face.  Forgive and forget is an illusion.  Forgiveness is a decision not to use the memory of the wrong as ammo in the next fight.

      Forgiveness is a decision not to be ruled by painful emotions.  If forgiving wiped away all ill feeling, everyone would gladly and quickly forgive.  The reality is that we can still feel the pain even after we have forgiven the person.  However, we are called not to let our hurt emotions cut someone out of our lives or lash back.

      Forgiveness is a decision to allow someone to regain trust.  When someone sins against us it breaks trust and respect.  Forgiveness doesn’t immediately restore trust.  However, it does give the person a way to regain it.  Forgiveness includes setting boundaries and accountability.  Boundaries and accountability are about extending grace, not punishment.  Essentially, forgiveness allows opportunity for reconciliation.  Yes, it does take two to reconcile, but let it never be said that it was the follower of Christ who wouldn’t allow reconciliation to take place.

      Forgiveness is a decision to help someone become who God created him or her to be.  When we stumble and fall, we often need another person who will help pick us up, offer encouragement, and show us a way to better relationships.  If we believe that everyone and every situation is redeemable, we can create grace-filled accountability so that God can transform the person who has sinned.  And think about it, our little, raggedy selves are invited by God to be a part of that restoring process!

      Bottom line is that families and businesses are about people.  No activity is done without the intersecting of lives.  No product is made or sold without people working together.  People, including me, will make mistakes, disappoint, fall short, sin.  However, to help people reach their potential and for us to reach ours, we must freely use the currency of God’s economy.  We must decide to forgive.


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